The schedule is about to get much more difficult for the UT Arlington men’s basketball team after cruising to an 84-50 win Tuesday over UT Dallas in the season opener.
Second-year coach Chris Ogden should have a good idea of the Mavericks’ potential when the dust settles in November.
UTA plays a perennially strong Tulsa team at 7 p.m. Saturday for its homecoming game at College Park Center.
Tulsa opened the season Tuesday with an 80-72 home win over Houston Baptist. Tulsa finished 18-14 last season and returns two of its top three scorers. Last November, UTA lost at Tulsa, 72-58.
Tulsa should help prepare UTA for a tough upcoming stretch where the Mavericks play three consecutive road games starting Tuesday at Nevada followed by clashes against No. 15 Oregon and No. 8 Gonzaga.
“They understand what’s coming in here on Saturday [against Tulsa],” Ogden said after the win over UT Dallas, “a different level of athlete, a different level of player, size and strength.”
The Mavericks finished one win shy of the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons, but nobody predicted a strong rookie campaign by Ogden after the cupboard was left bare following the firing of long-time coach Scott Cross.
Ogden added several transfers to help rebuild a depleted roster and led UTA to a second-place tie in the conference.
This year, UTA is picked to finish second in the Sun Belt behind South Alabama. The Mavericks return all five starters and four of their top four scorers, led by preseason All-Sun Belt first-team senior point guard Brian Warren.
Senior forward TiAndre Jackson-Young came off the bench Tuesday to lead UTA with a game-high 19 points. True freshman guard Sam Griffin from Miami also added 12 points off the bench.
Sophomore starting forward Jordan Phillips also scored 17 points for UTA in his debut. Phillips, who is from Fort Worth and played in high school at Arlington Grace Prep, transferred to UTA from Arkansas.
“We made a pretty good first impression,” Phillips said. “Now we just have to build off of this.”
UNT wins opener
North Texas newcomer Thomas Bell came off the bench Tuesday to lead a 79-40 victory over Oklahoma Christian in the season opener.
Bell, a junior forward transfer from Kaskaskia College in Illinois, finished with a game-high 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting. North Texas shot 61.2 percent from the field despite eight players making their debuts.
Junior forward Zachary Simmons added 14 points and sophomore guard Umoja Gibson scored 12.
North Texas played Friday night at No. 25 Virginia Commonwealth. The Mean Green are back on the road Tuesday to play at Arkansas.
In the preseason Conference USA poll, North Texas was picked to finish seventh out of 14 teams.
North Texas women’s basketball coach Jalie Mitchell’s teams have improved their win total in each of her first four seasons in charge of the Mean Green.
But North Texas didn’t get off to a good start Thursday, dropping the season opener to Mid-America Christian, 61-59, at The Super Pit. The NAIA school from Oklahoma City has won back-to-back National Christian College Athletic Association national titles.
Anisha George, the Mean Green’s lone senior, had 19 points and 26 rebounds in the loss. Freshman forward Destinee McDowell added 14 points and nine rebounds.
North Texas was a dismal 2-for-35 from 3-point range.
“This is the first time, practice or game, where I’ve seen us shoot like this,” Mitchell said. “I hope it’s the last time we experience that.”
UTA women open Saturday
The UTA women’s basketball team will open its season against Chicago State in a homecoming game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at College Park Center.
The Lady Mavs won an exhibition game, 63-42, over Midwestern State on Oct. 30.
UTA is picked to finish third in a preseason Sun Belt poll. Sophomore guard Claire Chastain (second team) and sophomore guard Katie Ferrell (third team) received preseason All-Sun Belt recognition.
The Lady Mavs have to replace an impactful senior class from a year ago, when they won the regular-season Sun Belt title, reached the WNIT and tied a single-season school record with 24 wins.